President Barack Obama's comments on legalizing undocumented workers in his State of the Union address has drawn sharp criticism from immigration advocates.
Obama stated toward the end of his speech that "We should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system," Obama said ". . . and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation."
Rep Luis Gutierrez, (D-Ill.) who has authored a bill in the house that has 92 co-sponsors , told the Washington Post there there was "disillusionment" among immigration advocates across the country.
"There's almost universal consensus that what the president said -- it was too little," Gutierrez said. "He was very weak on immigration, lackadaisical."
The Washington Post quoted one veteran Senate lobbyist on the issue as saying "immigration is deader than a doornail,"
"I had very low expectations, but he surprised even me with how little he said," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice. He and other advocates are pushing to legalize many of 12 million illegal immigrants.
Following the President's off-hand remarks Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), sought to to reassure immigrant advocates and Latino groups that they were still working with Senator Lindsay Graham( R-S.C.) to find Republican backers for a joint bill.
"It's something we're committed to do, and we'll do it as soon as we can," Reid told reporters.
The White House stated the fact that he mentioned it meant it was part of his agenda for the year: "What he said in the speech was that we should move the process and legislation forward this year."